The King of Booze: Abel Ferrara

Iconoclastic filmmaker Abel Ferrara—director of the Christopher Walken classic “King of New York” and Harvey Keitel’s viscerally devastating performance in “Bad Lieutenant”—is regarded as a cult legend as much for his hard-livin’ lifestyle as his raw, disturbed take on cinema.

We call him from NYC at 4 a.m., Rome time. He’s been hiding out in an Italian hotel for two months, where he’s rumored to be developing a new film with some mysterious confreres. It’s unclear what exactly he’s been doing, but whatever it is involves alcohol.

Ready and Abel.

How’s it going, Abel?
“It’s alright…So what do you wanna talk about?”

Would you be comfortable talking about your favorite beer?
“Budweiser all the way! I mean, call ’em up and tell ’em like, you know, ‘Nobody pushes it like us.’ There’s no like the King of Beers. There’s nothing like it, you know what I mean? Believe me, I’ve drank thousand-dollar bottles of wine. They don’t come close to a... a Jersey Bud.”

Now are you talking about a can or in a bottle?
“Only in a bottle. But only twenty-twos. It’s a bitch to get them over here man. It’s no easy matter.”

What’s the drinking situation in Italy like?
“Um, yeah, I’m breaking them into Budweiser.”

The imports, right?
“Naw, they make ‘em here. Budweiser European. You know, we actually went to the source. We were in Czechoslovakia where they actually... where the original formula is.”

What’s it called? Budvar?
“Bood-vice-er.” [Phonetically, like a lisping Dracula]

What’s the best city for drinking?
“Czechoslovakia man. What was the city? Bratislava.”

Oh yeah, that’s the spa town.
“Yeah, that’s the joint, bro.”

What’s so good about it?
“Every bar has its own beer. You know what I mean? Like Budweiser, it’s like all they drink in that bar. Then you go to another bar, and then it’s like.... If you’re into beer, ya know what I’m saying.”

You’re a movie person, so you’ve got to be around fancy people drinking girly drinks.
“Yeah, fancy champagne, we [movie people] drink. You know what we drink here.... Bellinis, Prosecco. You know what I’m saying?”

Does that just whet your appetite, or does that get you going?
“What gets me going is Budweiser, homes! You know, a Jersey Bud. Twenty-two ounce. Double-D. The Double-Deuce of the D.”

Last I saw you, you were talking about Asia Argento.
“Yeah, fuck Asia Argento.”

How do you find these ingénues? Like what do you look for?
“They look for us, you know what I’m saying? You got no choice. I mean, Asia Argento shows up, what are you going to say? You know what I mean? Have you got the nerve to say ‘No’? What was that joke.... ‘You ain’t going to throw them out of bed for eating crackers.’ ” [He laughs, mumbles, passes the phone to his friend, who we speak with for a while, and then the international connection is lost....]

The above interview was conducted in 2004 and was intended for publication in a magazine I was co-editing. The article was written by Byron Karl, but it never saw print, so Celebrity Cola is printing it here for the sake of bettering mankind—or something.

Note: Celebrity Cola prefers local breweries to Budweiser, because Budweiser is The Man. Unless the Bud is free. Or really cheap. And we’re short on cash. Then we’ll drink anything. We can be really sad and desperate like that, on occasion. Is this the most heartwarming and edifying story you’ve ever read, or what?


Better Than Beer: There's no need for alcohol when you can boil your mind with the idiocy of frivolous lawsuits. Visit for frequent updates on who's suing whom, and why. Hangover guaranteed.

Definitely Not Sober: the Donnie Darko FAQ at StainlessSteelRat explicates many of the mysteries of Richard Kelly’s film/tonal thriller but doesn't delve much into the superior, confusing director’s cut. The “Donnie Darko: Fishing for Meaning” discussion at Arts & Faith is also insightful, although no one has adequately solved the conundrum of why the psychiatrist was secretly giving Donnie a placebo or why she and Drew Barrymore seem to know more about the plot than they’re letting on...


Eric Berlin said...

That is one wacky interview. That is to say: I loved it. Great job.

And yes, Prague is one kick-ass beer drinking city: plentiful and cheap and good.

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